So does anyone think that this article or the words of a solicitor is likely to stop many from using cannabis, if any at all?
It is very one-sided article and does not mention the COUNTLESS people with serious illnesses that already benefit from cannabis use in the UK, albeit illegal to possess or grow - and those that benefit from its value as a preventative medicine?
Not forgetting those being damaged by addictive and dangerous pharmaceutical pills that could be better off using the medicinal plant - as they do in many other countries.
Surely it would be better to legalise the supply and let people grow their own - less profit fro the solicitors of course and less work for them and the police and courts - greater savings to the NHS and taxpayers - greater protection for consumers.
OF COURSE no young people should not take cannabis especially when bought on the streets - but TRUTH is that the law seems powerless to stop them.
Published on Wednesday 15 August 2012 11:29
Leeds solicitor Grahame Stowe has been involved with mental health tribunals for 24 years. During that time he says he has seen countless cases of lives that have been permanently damaged as a result of cannabis use. He told crime reporter Sam Casey why he believes the drug is being taken too lightly.
When it comes to the debate on cannabis, Grahame Stowe is unequivocal.
“Cannabis has this evil streak for bringing on mental illness,” he says.
“Rarely does a week go by when I don’t see a case of pyschosis that has been induced by the drug.”
The Leeds lawyer – senior partner at Grahame Stowe Bateson, based on Portland Street in the city centre – has chaired mental health tribunals for 24 years.
The hearings are carried out to review cases of patients detained under the Mental Health Act.
Mr Stowe told the YEP he was seeing worrying numbers of young lives wrecked by cannabis.
“It’s something that hasn’t suddenly sprung up, but it has been underplayed for too long,” he said.
“The problems with heroin and crack cocaine are that they are addictive and they destroy lives because of their addictive potential.
“Cannabis is less addictive but it is dangerous because of the impact it can have on your mental health.”
According to the last British Crime Survey (2010-11), 7.7 per cent of 16 to 59-year-olds in Yorkshire reported having used cannabis in the past year – the highest figure of any region in the country.
One in three people in the county said they thought it was ‘OK’ to take cannabis, at least occasionally.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says about one in 10 cannabis users will have unpleasant experiences, including confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia.
It says there is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness, including depression and psychosis, are more likely to use cannabis or have used it for long periods in the past.
Regular use of the drug has appeared to double the risk of developing a psychotic episode or long-term schizophrenia, the Royal College says.
Mr Stowe said he had seen tragic cases of bright and capable people whose lives had been ruined.
“I have seen the most gifted students admitted to psychiatric hospitals under the compulsory detention powers of the Mental Health Act. The most promising futures can be irrevocably destroyed.
“In some cases it can be a one-off – they are detained for, say, 28 days, then they go back to their careers, they’ve learned their lesson and they get on with their lives.
“But if it’s repeated foolishness it can lead to great problems. In cases that are not uncommon it can cause schizophrenia, which is a lifetime sentence.
“I recall one guy who was an Oxbridge student, but he fell foul of cannabis and developed schizophrenia.
“You just think, what a terrible waste. It’s not just a stimulant, it’s not something to enhance a social occasion – it can very easily ruin your life irreparably.”
Mr Stowe’s experiences are substantiated by consultant psychiatrist Stephen Wright, who is employed by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
He works with the early intervention team at Leeds-based Aspire, a mental health service that supports young people exhibiting signs of psychosis.
Dr Wright said cannabis was often a factor, especially in young people.
“It’s important to be clear – not everybody who smokes it develops psychosis,” he said.
“If there was no such thing as cannabis, the number of cases of psychosis worldwide would probably only decrease by 10 to 15 per cent.
“But we see people every day for whom cannabis is a factor to a greater or lesser degree.
“A large proportion of our clients are using or have used cannabis.”
Dr Wright said there was growing evidence young people were more susceptible to the effects of the drug – and that the harmful potential of street cannabis was growing because its potency was increasing.
“We routinely ask when our clients started using cannabis. It’s very common that people start at 14 or 15.
“If kids take it during puberty it can have a disastrous effect on brain development.
“The age of the user is quite a key factor – the earlier they start, the more likely it is to cause psychosis.
“There is also evidence that the THC content [the primary psycho-active compound in cannabis] is growing.
“The danger is it’s become more like whisky than beer.”
Caroline MacKay, chief executive of Leeds addiction support charity Multiple Choice, said one in nine of the people who attended structured day programmes designed to help people recover from addiction cited cannabis as their primary problem drug.
She said: “There are some people who are predisposed to mental health problems who may be affected by heavy cannabis use.
“There’s no doubt we have seen people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or psychosis because of it.”
Ms McKay said she was in favour of decriminalising cannabis for medicinal uses.
She is not the only one.